Hundreds of protesters have filled the streets of New York City since mid-September voicing their concerns about economic inequality. Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing protest based in downtown Manhattan.
According to English Teacher Gina Apostol, who traveled to Zuccotti Park and throughout Manhattan in order to witness the protests, “People are there for dozens of reasons, both specific and wide reaching. Some like Obama, some hate him, some don’t care about the electoral system at all.”
Ms. Apostol stated that one concern she most often saw voiced was over the Citizens United precedent. “The effect of a pro-corporate mentality on all of the branches of our government is really a problem. This is part of why our elections have become so heated—they’re funded by millionaires,” she said.
Other reasons cited by protesters for their continued presence in lower Manhattan is the trend concerning after-tax income. The top 1% of the country witnessed a 275% spike in after-tax income in the time period from 1979 to 2007, while the other 99% witnessed a decline, according to a Congressional Budget Office study.
“In the meantime, long-fought benefits for working-class Americans are being eroded at the same time that we fail to tax those who reap the benefits from this inequality,” said Ms. Apostol.
Ms. Apostol believes that, regardless of what the Wall Street protests change, people should voice concerns, especially given the role that money currently plays in the politically-oriented forums. “As a citizen, if there is a place in our society where we can voice our concerns or our questions about what is going on, we ought to take advantage of that,” she said.
On the other side, Jack Vallar ’12 said, “It perpetuates class warfare and blames the nation’s problems on the top one percent. Also, the rest of the ninety-nine percent is being negatively affected by the protests.”
David Keith ’13 believes that Occupy Wall Street has valid reasons for continuing to protest. “They’ll stop when they feel like the people who caused the 2008 Wall Street meltdown are punished. It’s inexcusable that even three years later some of those people have escaped prosecution,” Keith said.
The protests, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, started about two months ago, but they show no signs of slowing down. Last month, angry protests broke out in Rome and as many as 70 other cities around the globe.